From Thomas Sowell’s column, “Forward” to the Past?:
The seductive notion of economic equality has appealed to many people. The pilgrims started out with the idea of equal sharing. The colony of Georgia began with very similar ideas. In the midwest, Britain’s Robert Owen– who coined the term “socialism”– set up colonies based on communal living and economic equality.
What these idealistic experiments all had in common was that they failed.
They learned the hard way that people would not do as much for the common good as they would do for their own good. The pilgrims nearly starved learning that lesson. But they learned it. Land that had been common property was turned into private property, which produced a lot more food.
Similar experiments were tried on a larger scale in other countries around the world. In the biggest of these experiments– the Soviet Union under Stalin and Communist China under Mao– people literally starved to death by the millions.
It is no coincidence that those who are going ballistic over the economic inequality between the top one or two percent and the rest of us are promoting a far more dangerous concentration of political power in Washington– where far less than one percent of the population increasingly tell 300 million Americans what they can and cannot do, on everything from their light bulbs and toilets to their medical care.
This movement in the direction of central planning, under the name of “forward,” is in fact going back to a system that has failed in countries around the world– under both democratic and dictatorial governments and among peoples of virtually every race, color, creed, and nationality.